Students braise their way to business success
Bellerose program gives students a real taste of the restaurant business
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 06:00 am
The order comes in: one Brome Lake duck confit with bacon ice cream, stat!
The Bellerose Composite High students spring into action. Within minutes, there’s meat frying, cream boiling and knives flying as the young chefs whip up a gourmet meal in the school’s kitchen.
Students Tyler Hill and Connor Minshull are boiling up some ice cream from scratch. They have to keep a constant eye on its temperature, lest it turn into scrambled eggs.
It’ll be great when it’s done, Minshull said.
“The creamy texture mixed with the little bit of crunchiness is really good,” he said.
This Wednesday, the 15 members of the Bellerose Business Venture team will serve a three-course gourmet meal to about 100 people as part of a family supper. As of Friday, the event was almost sold out.
The students are part of the school’s new food and business course and have formed a real business that sells food and puts on for-profit community dinners in town, said Bellerose food studies teacher Jason Dabbagh.
Dabbagh said he wants to share his passion for entertaining through the course and teach students about the restaurant business. Students excel when they can take ownership of something, he continued, and this course gives them that opportunity.
“All the students have invested money in the corporation,” Dabbagh said, and each is learning much about cooking and budgeting.
Local businesses such as D’Arcy’s Meat Market are helping out with tours, supplies and guest lectures.
This is the second community dinner the class has organized and it will have earned about $4,500 before expenses when it’s done, Dabbagh said.
The team is currently several thousands of dollars in debt due to equipment purchases but it hopes to be back in the black by the end of the year. (The debt rolls over to next year if they aren’t.) The gear purchased will be donated to the school at year’s end, and any profit will be shared amongst the team’s members.
Heading up the team is Grade 12 student Cassidy Wilson.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve loved to cook,” she said.
She jumped at the chance when Dabbagh started the class.
The team has been busy this past week prepping its meals for next Wednesday’s service, Wilson said.
“We’ve made all our ice cream,” she said.
The team also has two industrial freezers full of food to serve.
Their first meal in November, which had a Thai theme, was a little less organized.
“There were dishes everywhere,” Wilson recalls, and everyone was bumping into each other. Their batch freezer broke, and they didn’t get it fixed until hours before meal-time.
“We had every tech in the school come in to look at it.”
They have a whole new organizational plan this time, Wilson said, which guests will be able to see first-hand on a live video feed.
“It’s all fresh, and you get to see us prep it,” she said.
The team is going Canadian for next week’s menu: yam poutine, fried goat cheese puck, “double-double” coffee, doughnut-shaped doughnut bread pudding and candied maple bacon ice cream.
“What’s more Canadian than bacon?” Dabbagh quipped.
The star of the show will be the duck confit, Hill said, which is duck cooked slowly in its own fat, making it extra tender. “
It’s one of the best foods you’ll ever try,” he said.
Wilson said people should come to their restaurant for a unique, personal experience.
“We don’t ever have the same menu,” she said, and you can speak directly with the chefs who make your meal. “You’re getting a good meal while we’re learning and getting experience.”
The restaurant business is tough, Dabbagh said, and many of these students won’t even go into it after graduation. But they will learn to cook for themselves.
“I just want them to be great home cooks,” he said.
The Bellerose Business Venture dinner is at 6 p.m. on Jan. 30 at Bellerose Composite High School. Tickets are $29.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details.